The second of a four-part series showing the correlation between the Packers’ 2011 draft and their strategy for long-term team-building. See the first part here.
Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
Randall Cobb fulfilled an immediate short-term need for the Packers: A kick and punt returner who actually scared teams with his potential. He performed fairly well, but his real value will be as a wide receiver. At the time the Packers chose Cobb, their wide receiver position, though stacked, was not built for the long-term. It looked like James Jones would depart via free agency, Jordy Nelson was coming off a hot playoff run but wasn’t locked down with a long-term contract, Donald Driver was mostly likely playing in his last season and Greg Jennings’s contract was up after the 2012-13 season.
With that much unknown about his ultra-important receiving corps, Thompson wasn’t about to pass on Cobb. Now that the receiving corps is in a bit of a different state – Driver is most likely not coming back in 2012, Jones is locked-in as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver, Nelson is the No. 2 and Jennings is the No. 1, at least through this year – Cobb will be apprenticing for the slot receiver role which so often goes to Jennings. If Jennings does leave via free agency, the Packers will have come out on top with this draft pick. If Jennings stays, the Pack will devote many more plays to get this guy on the field as much as possible.
Alex Green, RB, Hawaii
Thompson took a look at his running back situation after the 2010-11 season, decided that Brandon Jackson wouldn’t be re-signed (despite this awesome move he put on Urlacher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cjyuZQv80U ) and worried that Ryan Grant’s injury won’t allow him to play at the same level as he did in 2010. With James Starks as his only “sure thing,” Thompson went offense again and grabbed a back early in the 2011 draft.
We didn’t learn much about Green and his ability to run in the NFL during his rookie season. An injury early in the season prevented him from taking advantage of late season injuries to Ryan Grant and James Starks. Instead, Brandon Saine, an undrafted free agent known more for his catching ability than running ability, actually graded out better on yards after contact than Grant and Starks and now with Grant expected to depart the Packers, Green and Saine will battle in training camp for the backup running back spot. Still looks like a good pick, especially because it seems like Starks has cold streaks from time to time.
See part III about the 2011 Packers draft tomorrow …
Topics: Alex Green, Brandon Jackson, Brian Urlacher, Donald Driver, Facebook, Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings, James Jones, James Starks, Jordy Nelson, NFL Draft 2011, Randall Cobb, Ryan Grant, Twitter, University Of Hawaii, University Of Kentucky